BEREA: At 6-foot-4 and 237 pounds, Barkevious Mingo has the body of an NBA guard, but he’s confident he’ll wreak havoc as an outside linebacker in the NFL.
The Browns hope Mingo is right. They drafted him sixth overall Thursday night and are counting on him to become an elite pass rusher in defensive coordinator Ray Horton’s 3-4, multifront scheme.
Mingo is convinced his work ethic will prevent him from becoming a bust.
“At LSU, I played with a high motor,” Mingo said Friday afternoon during his introductory news conference at the Browns’ headquarters. “I wanted to get there. Every play, I wanted a sack. I wanted to be in the backfield. Just having that mindset helps everything else.”
General Manager Mike Lombardi said Mingo is the “defining” type of player the Browns seek.
“He’s competitive, he’s extremely tough, he loves football, he’s passionate, he’s fast, he’s athletic and he’s long,” Lombardi said. “As you talk to coach [Rob Chudzinski], you talk to [CEO Joe Banner], those are the kind of qualities we’re looking to add to the football team … productive in college.”
Mingo, though, must clear obstacles if he wants to prove himself at the next level.
At the NFL Combine, Mingo weighed 241 pounds. Most NFL offensive linemen have nearly a 100-pound advantage on him, though Mingo isn’t going to lose any sleep over it.
“I think I can play at this weight right here,” Mingo said. “A lot of people have been telling me you need to be heavier to be in the NFL — you’ve got to be 20 pounds heavier. I actually played lighter some years in my college career, and I did absolutely fine. I weigh more than I did in college, and I don’t think it’ll be too much of an adjustment to make.”
Another hurdle will be Mingo’s transition to outside linebacker after playing defensive end at LSU. Although Mingo was an all-state linebacker as a junior and senior at West Monroe (La.) High School, he conceded he doesn’t have much experience dropping back in coverage.
“Obviously, making the jump from defensive end to an outside linebacker, I’ll be covering tight ends [and] receivers,” Mingo said. “Obviously, I’ll have to get better covering receivers.
“I don’t think it’ll be too difficult. I’m not the stiff-hipped guy. I think I’m pretty mobile and move pretty well, so I think it’ll be an easy transition. [I] just have to work on it.”
Then there’s the concern about Mingo’s drop in production from his sophomore season to last year. In 2011, Mingo had 46 tackles, including 15 for loss, and eight sacks, compared with 38 tackles, including 8˝ for loss and 4˝ sacks in 2012.
“I feel I played better [last season],” Mingo said. “The stats really don’t tell how everything went. Teams were doing different stuff this year. They didn’t want to get their quarterback sacked. They were chipping, they were sliding the line, doing a lot of stuff to disrupt our rush from both ends. And we played mobile quarterbacks. By design, we wanted to contain those guys.”
LSU asked Mingo, who had a total of 15 sacks in his three collegiate seasons, to do more than harass quarterbacks.
“I was a run stopper,” Mingo said. “I was an every-down player. I wasn’t just a pass rusher.”
Although the Browns covet Mingo because of his potential as an edge rusher, they need him to adapt and be versatile. He can’t wait to show them he can.
“I just want to get back to playing football,” Mingo said. “It’s been a couple months since [LSU lost 25-24 to] Clemson [in the Chick-fil-A Bowl]. I got a nasty taste in my mouth, and I just want to strap them on and play football.”
San Diego State cornerback Leon McFadden, the Browns’ third-round pick, could have followed his father down the professional baseball path. McFadden’s father Leon played right field and shortstop for the Houston Astros from 1968-70. But the younger McFadden said he was never pushed in that direction.
“Growing up, the first sport I ever played was baseball. I did all sports,” McFadden said. “He wanted me to live the dream I wanted to do, the sport I wanted to play and football was the sport I wanted to play. I went with it and he supported it. Both parents were really big on education and then sports.”
Lombardi said free-agent slot receiver David Nelson, signed on April 8 but coming off a torn ACL suffered in the 2012 opener while with the Buffalo Bills, “is close to being healthy.” Nelson did not participate in the recent voluntary minicamp, but Chudzinski expects him to be ready for training camp.
Lombardi didn’t regard Friday’s trade for Dolphins receiver Davone Bess as insurance for Nelson.
“It gives us great competition for the coaches to evaluate the players and see what roles they define and how they play,” Lombardi said. “I think it’s still early to really see what roles are going to be played. I think both players have produced in NFL games and have made plays and scored touchdowns and converted third downs.”
Mingo’s agent Jeff Guerriero said Mingo was one of several players dressed by a stylist for Thursday’s first round of the draft at Radio City Music Hall. For Mingo, she selected a brown-striped tie and an orange pocket square.
“We did not know he was going here,” Guerriero said. “He gets on the phone and a big smile comes on his face and he points [to the pocket square]. She must have had a sign or something.”
Akron resident Dave Robinson, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2013, announced the Green Bay Packers’ second-round selection. Doing the honors for the Browns in the third round was tackle Dick Schafrath. … Lombardi doesn’t believe San Diego State quarterbacks coach Brian Sipe, the former Browns great, had anything to do with the selection of McFadden. But McFadden said Sipe was the first person he thought of when he heard the Browns had selected him. … Joining Mingo in Berea was his 22-year-old girlfriend Lauren Tarver, who will graduate from LSU in May with a degree in political communications. She said she has been accepted by LSU’s law school. … Tigers coach Les Miles, a native of Elyria, attended the draft with Mingo in New York. “Right when they were about to pick, he was, like, ‘I’m from Ohio,’?” Mingo said. “Then my phone started ringing. It was crazy.” … Mingo on Browns running back Trent Richardson, who played at rival Alabama: “I got a lot of hits on him. But he’s a trunk. He doesn’t go down easy.”